Kavanagh strike repays Saints' faith
St Patrick's Ath 1
DARYL Kavanagh knows all about the virtues of taking a second chance. Last night's match winner has overcome a troubled past.
Football saved him from a grisly path. And, in a lively Dublin derby, the St Patrick's Athletic striker continued to repay the faith of his new employers by delivering a goal born from a combination of dazzling footwork and perseverance.
Gary Rogers clearly had an idea about where Bohs could be exploited. Any time that he gathered a Bohs cross when the Phibsboro men had numbers forward, the Saints 'keeper immediately launched a missile into the other half where Kavanagh sought to use his speed advantage over Pat Fenlon's well-travelled defence.
As this encounter entered a decisive phase, the tactic paid off. The 24-year-old wandered into the right area to gather Rogers' exocet, before weaving away from Liam Burns and expertly finding the bottom corner.
Bohs, for their part, were unhappy that they were denied a late penalty when skipper Owen Heary appeared to be fouled.
Ultimately, though, for all the good positions Bohs found and the number of corners they forced, their decision making in key areas was poor.
The Saints extended their unbeaten run to seven games with this result; proof they have regained some of the steel which characterised their resurgence last year.
The last meeting between these sides was a televised horror show at Richmond Park with little to recommend it. This was a better game, however, despite a dearth of early goalscoring opportunities.
Certainly, there was a bit more ambition from the respective protagonists, with Fenlon's Bohs side maturing nicely. Sure, their experienced defence has been around the block, so don't need any educating. Further up the pitch, youngsters Stephen Traynor, Keith Buckley and Leaving Cert student Christopher Forrester are learning on the job.
Meanwhile, the visitors looked to Stephen Bradley for midfield invention, with roving front man Kavanagh attempting to feed off the imposing Dave McMillan.
For the opening half hour, however, there was little creative joy for either party until a flurry of activity, which was started by a McMillan flick over the bar after a cross from his brother Evan, who had meandered forward from his centre-half berth.
The defensive McMillan then needlessly conceded a corner which the hosts took quickly, culminating with a deflected Killian Brennan shot falling into the path of Buckley, whose snapshot sailed over.
Before the interval, the respective goalkeepers got in on the act, with Saints fans howling that Chris O'Connor had carried the ball across the line as he just about gathered a Kavanagh effort, which took an unexpected diversion off the head of Brennan. The appeals were waved away.
Bohs were looking that little bit more incisive, though, and Flood forced a fine stop from Rogers after a clever turn and strike.
The second half stepped things up a notch, with the increasingly influential Kavanagh skipping away from Aidan Price to sting the fingers of O'Connor, who had raised blood pressure levels around Dalymount in a mix-up with Burns seconds previously.
Fenlon looked to shore up midfield with the introduction of Glenn Cronin, who was given a warm ovation on his return from a cruciate ligament setback. Chris Fagan, a shorter-term absentee, was then welcomed back, as Fenlon shuffled his pack.
Alas, Bohs were sucker-punched with a quarter of an hour remaining, when Kavanagh grabbed the limelight.
Unsurprisingly, the Inchicore men were pushed back on the defensive as Bohs went in search of parity. They hounded Tomney when Heary fell under a clumsy challenge from Neil Harney, but all they had to show for their protests was a yellow card for dissent.
Indeed, they could have fallen further behind in time added on, only for Kavanagh to squander a one-on-one.
Bohemians -- O'Connor, Heary, Burns, Price, Cahill (Fagan 68); Forrester (Burke 78), Bayly, Brennan, Buckley (Cronin 57); Traynor; Flood
St Patrick's Athletic -- Rogers, Harney, Shortall, E McMillan, Pender; Murphy (Stewart 78), Crowley (McFaul 88), Bradley, Doyle; Kavanagh; D McMillan (Daly 85)
Ref -- D Tomney (Dublin)